I'm going to guess that most people writing on this blog don't say their shoulder is the first thing they notice as different, but that was the first thing that struck me when I woke up Sunday morning. I've been doing a fair amount of rideshare driving, and some older gentleman had apparently opted to put a cinder block in his carry-on, and I managed to strain something between getting it into and out of my trunk. It wasn't so bad by the time vacation was over, but the first thing I noticed yesterday was "huh, all better". I stretched a bit, half-noted that it felt kind of weird but not bad in the chest, and then got out of bed and headed for the shower.
That's when I encountered the bathroom mirror, saw Theresa Moreau wearing my t-shirt, and jumped back, making a clatter as I hit the stall's sliding door. I was briefly embarrassed at the noise, then leaned into the mirror. Taking a good look at my face. I'd seen her briefly when I went to Pineland to put Mom's affairs in order - she was one of the agents at the real estate firm I had list the house - and my face looked more or less the same. My hair was darker than hers had been, and she'd been wearing a mask then, but I'd liked her in high school and this was basically the same face. I tentatively brought my hands up toward my chest, as the pull of gravity when I leaned in had kind of clarified that the odd sensation while stretching was breasts, but just let my hands hover a few inches out. Belatedly not wanting to wake anybody, I whispered something like what sort of weird dream was this to myself, quietly enough that I couldn't really hear much difference in my voice.
My banging into the shower door had apparently awakened someone, though, as there was a knock on the other door in this connecting bathroom. "Eddie? Are you okay? I know you've just had a shock, but I can explain!" There was a pause. "Can I come in?"
I did a quick inspection to make sure I wasn't showing anything someone else shouldn't see, and then answered okay. The door opened, and I saw Theresa's fiance, Austin Greene, and not the person who had been there the last week.
"Austin--? What's going on? Where's, uh..."
"The cute co-ed you didn't even mention in your blog post? That was me, and I've got to say, I was kind of used to making a bit more of an impression. As you can see, the Inn is 'cursed'" - he made little air quotes - "and what with the Inn being closed for Covid last year, I got to spend a whole extra 12 months as her before getting back here, and a lot happened during that time, which is why Theresa isn't back yet and we needed to have a sub."
"And you decided that I'd make a good Theresa?"
"No, I figured you'd make a good me! I've spent almost two years as a girl, and I really liked it, so I was going to be Theresa, but the folks who were living our lives must have slept on the wrong sides of the bed or something, and things got mixed up. I'm really sorry, but try not to look at it as a bad thing, but that you've got a while to walk in someone else's shoes and see how the other half lives!"
"But," I sputtered, "you can't just do this to people! I've got a life of my own!"
"But not much of one, right? We looked at all the people we know and trust, and you were the one who seemed like he'd do well as me and didn't have much else going on. And who knows, maybe someone else in your spot will build something you wouldn't have thought of! This whole thing is usually random, but it's good for people to have their lives and perspectives shaken up every once in a while. And it's totally reversible - the Inn gets booked pretty solid from people who have stayed here before and know how it works, but sometime next year you and the new you and hopefully Theresa will be able to line things up and get back to normal, if that's what you want."
He shrugged. "It's a curse, man, not a service! We're just lucky that someone figured out the pattern. Now, c'mon, let's get you dressed in something that fits." He walked back to his room, wheeled in a suitcase, and stood there as he left it in front of me. I said something about being able to do it myself and retreated back to my room, locking the door behind me.
The previous Theresa - and it was just starting to hit me that the one I talked to last year wasn't the real deal and I'd had no idea anything was off - was helpful. Both dirty and clean clothes were rolled up tightly, the dirty ones in a plastic bag, with a little note apologizing for not doing laundry before leaving. There were some items on the other side of the suitcase that I wasn't close to ready for, but most of it was casual. Taking a deep breath, I let the sweatpants I'd been sleeping in drop, and then pulled my boxers after them. The t-shirt I was wearing was big enough on Theresa's body that I didn't have to look at what was between my legs as I pulled a pair of still-in-the-package panties with no lace or anything like that up, and then a loose-fitting pair of slacks. There were ankle socks and a pair of sneakers, too.
I pondered the bras for a second but couldn't bring myself to put one on yet. There was a Paw Sox t-shirt in the bag, and I took my sweaty nightshirt off while looking at the ceiling, closing my eyes as I grabbed the other one and pulled it on, trying my best to ignore the hem touching my nipples on the way down. I started to tuck it in, but that made the chest feel kind of tight, but it was loose enough to be kind of comfortable when I untucked.
There was a mirror in my room, and I looked in it. My shoulder-length hair was a bit of a mess, but I'd worn in that long before. I didn't look quite right, even as Theresa, but I'd had girlfriends who spent an hour in the bathroom before they felt ready to face the world, and it made me wonder how much of my image of her was either selective memory or her putting on makeup and coloring her hair. I wondered whether me doing that would feel more like pretending to be her or someone else.
I unlocked the bathroom door, opened it, and saw Austin with a towel around his waist. It was reassuring, I guess, that I didn't feel any sort of desire, even though fake-Austin had left him in pretty decent shape, and he didn't put a bulge in the towel on seeing me. "Ah, the casual look. I remember it well." He gave a little wink. "So, feeling good? They leave Tee in good shape?"
"I guess. I mean, I didn't look at anything."
"No? I kind of went straight for the boobs, although, to be fair, they were bigger than Tee's. Couldn't miss 'em. Every guy in my group who turned into a girl did, but then, we just thought we'd turned into girls, not specific girls, until we read the letters. I guess that's different for you."
Different was an understatement.
I just gave what I hoped was an angry look, and he continued. "So, letters - you should probably write one to help the new you get oriented, and then we should hit the road; turns out they need you in the office tomorrow. Let me get dressed, and you can start on that."
He closed the door, and I checked the suitcase for a letter to me. There wasn't one - fake-Theresa must have figured she'd be handing the life back to someone who knew it - but there was a small purse with a wallet, including Theresa's driver's license, social security card, and credit cards. There was also an iPhone, along with a charger and a note saying the PIN ("change it - better safe than sorry!", with a little smiley face on the letter I). It had drained, so I plugged it in and started writing. I was annoyed how quick it went, because that sort of meant Austin was right about my life. I tried to pack up in a way that matched what the previous Theresa had done as closely as I could, but still found it strange to put my wallet, keys, and phone inside my gym bag and close it, trusting someone else with my whole identity.
Not wanting to go through the bathroom again, I grabbed the bags and walked out the door, knocking on Aaron's. He saw I had both and said to put mine back, that finding strange bags in the room was a part of the whole Inn thing. I did, and by now I was kind of numb as we walked through the parking area, by head turning a bit to track my car as we passed it. After loading the trunk, we both approached the driver's side of Austin's car, and he chuckled. "Sorry, my car. Tee's got a cute little Mini. But while you're here..."
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a little box, and I immediately recognized the type. "Oh, no. No, no, no."
He didn't smirk, at least, actually getting a concerned look. "What, you want me to get down on one knee?"
"Hell no!" I snatched the box from him, opened it, and held my breath at the sight of the diamond ring inside. I plucked it out and felt my hand shaking as I started to slide it on.
"Uh, other hand. Now you're got it backwards..." I righted it, feeling like fifty pounds was sitting on my finger.
He grabbed my fingers and pulled them up. "Don't worry, it's a long way away and we can probably delay it again, long enough so I can wear the dress like Tee and I planned. It's just folks would talk if we came back from vacation and you weren't wearing this."
We got in the car and didn't talk much. I think I was kind of in shock and running what would happen if I bailed and went somewhere else through my head but not coming up with a better idea than seeing it through. And though he smiled at me and tried to be reassuring, I sometimes got the vibe that he was angry at me for having the body he'd wanted for himself.
We arrived in Rhode Island sometime mid-afternoon, by which point I was kind of amazed I'd held the coffee we'd bought at the first Dunks we encountered in. He pointed me to the bathroom and I sat, my body somehow knowing what to release. I tried to stand as soon as I was done but didn't like the wet sensation, so I sat back down, pulled some paper off the roll, and said "I'm sorry Theresa" out loud before looking down and wiping/patting everything dry.
(I'm not going to describe it; I felt I was invading Theresa's privacy enough as it was!)
The rest of the day was kind of a blur, with Austin pointing out what was different and me silently noting that it was nicer that any place I'd ever lived.
We agreed I'd take the guest bedroom; less on the walls to remind me that the space specifically belonged to someone else. I spent a couple hours moving clothes in there and arranging them, giving me a look at my new wardrobe. Theresa doesn't seem terribly high-maintenance; about half is comfortable weekend wear, half blouses and skirts for the office, and a few fancier things but no necklines that go down to the belly button or anything. She's got more shoes than I've ever had at once, but only a couple pairs have difficult-looking heels.
Just as with the bags at the Inn, the drawers were considerately organized, with a couple week's worth of bra and panty sets still in their plastic. There was a new toothbrush, and hairbrush, deodorant, and a few other grooming/beauty products I didn't recognize right away. It actually calmed me down a little. Just think of it as checking into a really nice hotel.
That said, I still made sure not to look when I changed into a nightshirt for bed that night, although I knew from taking a little sniff of the armpit area that this particular courtesy couldn't last much past morning.